TURKMENISTAN: Opposition Activist At Risk Of Torture


Azat Isakov, a Turkmen labour migrant living in Russia, has been a vocal critic of the Turkmenistan
government since 2019 and joined the opposition movements Turkmenia, Unite! On 20 October Isakov
sent a message to a trusted contact explaining that he feared Russian policemen were about to arrest
him. Since then, all messages have stopped.

On 9 November a member of Turkmenia, Unite! received a formal response to their inquiry from the
Russian Ministry of Interior indicating that Azat Isakov left the country on 22 October. Azat Isakov
could not have left the country through his own means because he did not possess the necessary
travel documents. Since 2020 Azat Isakov and his family members living in Turkmenistan have reported receiving
constant threats from officers of the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan, including threats of
abduction and rape of family members.

Write to the President urging him to:

•Ensure the urgent disclosure of information on the fate and whereabouts of Azat Isakov;

• If he is in the custody of Turkmenistani law enforcement, ensure that he is protected from
torture and other ill-treatment and that he has access to his family and any medical care he
might require

• Release Azat Isakov immediately unless there is sufficient credible evidence to charge him with
an internationally recognized criminal offence

Write to:  

President of Turkmenistan

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

The Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to the United Nations

866 UN Plaza, Suite 540

New York, NY 10017


Fax: 1-212-486 25 21

Email: turkmenistan@un.int

Email: go.saparov@gmail.com

Salutation: Dear President,

And copy

His Excellency Meret ORAZOV


Embassy of the Republic of Turkmenistan

2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20008


Tel: 1-202-588-1500

Fax: 1-202-588-0697

Email: turkmen@mindspring.com

Additional Information: 

Turkmenia, Unite! movement is an opposition group that actively criticizes the Turkmenistan government through social media. They post videos on their Facebook and YouTube pages where they highlight social problems within the country and call on the president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to respond to people’s needs.

Turkmenia, Unite! became very vocal after the events in 2020: mass poisoning of Turkmenistani labour migrants in Turkey in March, and hurricane that brought havoc in the Lebat region in April

Azat Isakov’s parents, wife and children live in Turkmenistan. Since Azat Isakov’s online activism they have reported threats from the Ministry of National Security. On 24 July 2020 Ministry officials seized their phones to investigate Isakov’s whereabouts in Russia. Two days later one of the pro-government YouTube channels declared that they knew Azat Isakov’s Russian address. Soon afterwards Azat Isakov started to receive threats and demands to return to Turkmenistan. Isakov was afraid of persecution and after his documents were stolen he refused to go to the Russian migration services to renew his working status. On 15 September Russian police apprehended Isakov but released him after 2 days in custody. On 20 Oct Azat Isakov disappeared and was reported back in Turkmenistan on 22 Oct.
Activists from Turkmenia, Unite! posted a statement on their YouTube channel where they claim Isakov is being held incommunicado in the 6th branch of the Police Department in Turkmenabat notorious for prosecuting opposition figures and journalist, and using torture practices.

Many groups, including Amnesty International and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have called for the immediate end to this approach, expressing concern that the government’s dangerously broad counter-insurgency strategy has led to an increase in human rights violations against human rights defenders and political activists across the country. 

If you want Updates on this case, send your request to urgentaction@amnesty.ca with “Keep me updated on UA 118/21 ” in the subject line.